Denis VilleneuveUSA146 minutes2013ColourEnglish
Completed just after Enemy, Villeneuve's first Hollywood production is equally accomplished in a broader, more directly dazzling style. The generic set-up of a hard-nosed father (Hugh Jackman) desperately hunting for his daughter's kidnapper in parallel with the plodding police investigation (led by Jake Gyllenhaal, getting his blink on as a detective improbably named Loki) is given both epic sweep and a spectral, fairy tale-like beauty through the director's collaboration with master cinematographer Roger Deakins (who was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award). Villeneuve suggested that Prisoners "could have been a western" in its depiction of frontier justice being applied in a 21st-century milieu, and there are certainly echoes of John Ford's classic The Searchers in Jackman's obsessive quest, which inaugurates a cycle of violent retribution that propels this contemporary story into the realm of tragic myth. "A sensationally effective thriller with a complex moral center" (Scott Foundas, Variety).